The NBA started it.
When 7’, 1” French-born center Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus in the middle of March followed by teammate guard Donovan Mitchell, the league instantly realized it had a problem.
And not just with the Jazz roster. Referee Courtney Kirkland had worked the Utah-Toronto game on a Monday night, and two days later the two Jazz players had tested positive. That sparked the conversation that this condition was a spreadable virus, and Kirkland would become the next carrier to other parts of the country. It was determined that the game he was working, the New Orleans Pelicans vs. the Sacramento Kings game, would be canceled.
Then shockingly, the entire NBA season was scratched. The NHL followed suit one day later. Next was tennis tournaments, NASCAR races, March Madness, golf events, baseball spring training, college football spring sessions, all college spring sports with the lone professional event still scheduled the XFL in its second maiden season. One week later, it too was vanquished. Gone. Over.
And now, one month later, the question is: when will sports resume?
Two weeks ago, the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said publicly that for that league to resume - or even think about re-opening a team sport - there must first be a pill, or a cure, or a shot that a person can take instantly that would cure people plus eliminate the conoravirus from spreading the infection to other people. Otherwise, the 2020 league year is in jeopardy.
And now, another brilliant mind just might have the antidote.
On Wednesday, the nation’s number one infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, provided a new spin on the possibility that sports can indeed return. However, he expressed conditions and stipulations that must be applied without fail. His resolution? He explained in an interview on Snapchat:
“There’s a way of doing that. Nobody comes to the stadium. Put (the athletes) in big hotels, wherever you want to play. Keep them very well surveilled, and have them tested like every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out.”
Dr. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force. Basically, he is the point man for the United States on the worldwide pandemic.
The NFL draft is next week in a virtual setting. The PGA Tour has stated that they plan to re-start in June. MMA is renting their own island and will televise events. The start of the Major League Baseball season remains on hold. Meanwhile, the likelihood of the NHL and NBA seasons becoming a complete wash are real while the XFL recently filed bankruptcy.
Could college and professional sports actually resume using Dr. Fauci’s plan?
“People say, ‘Well, you know, you can’t play without spectators.’ Well, I think you’ll probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game, particularly me. Living in Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again.”
MLB is considering a proposal for every team to play their games in a single location, such as Phoenix, Arizona, in order to regulate the players, coaches and umpires. This would also allow them to televise games and attempt to recoup some of the money they would have made from the networks that have ponied up lots of money to bring the game to the public on television.
Could the NFL adopt a similar strategy? Is it possible that games would only become available on TV and just a handful of cities would maintain control of game environments? And what would live games be like without any fans in attendance?
Apparently, even if the league began selling tickets to games, it doesn’t mean folks will buy them. In a recent poll by Seton Hall University, 72% of Americans stated they would not attend any publicly active sporting event without first being able to obtain a vaccine for COVID-19. The poll also asked specifically about the upcoming NFL season, and pollsters agreed that the league should not open as scheduled in early September.
So, according to the nation’s leading authority on the virus, the answer Dr. Fauci is offering to have an NFL season, is to begin with players, coaches and front office staff all congregated in one location every single day without ever going anywhere except that location and the stadium. Next, have each of these people tested each week, every week. Then, let them play to empty stadiums and a television audience. And then if a vaccine is formulated, resume life as we once knew it.
Sounds promising. But, there are many questions that remain.
Do the players, coaches and front office personnel’s families stay with them in this quarantine environment? How will teams practice? What happens when a player is tested positive? If he is quarantined, for how long? What happens to the rest of the players that were around the infected player? Could an entire offensive or defensive unit become acceptably to quarantine procedures? Will 53-man rosters need to become 90-100-110 man rosters in order to field a team each week? Will every club be situated in a single city such as the MLB suggestion in order to play out their schedules? If not, how will teams travel?
Are stadium employees and TV crews part of this system of isolation? Then you add the fact that you also have the referees to consider and members of the chain gang. Certainly, they must become a resident in wherever this Island of Misfit Toys is situated. Don’t these guys have regular jobs? How will that play in?
Will the travel employees such as pilots, cab drivers, bus drivers and the like also be quarantined and tested every week? What about employees such as uniform laundry workers, cooks, hotel personnel, maid service, food delivery drivers and dishwashers become a part of this huge net?
Stadium employees and clean-up crews? Groundskeepers? Security? Statisticians? Are each of these members of the hotel quarantine? What about the all-important sideline uniform police? Will media members be banned or just a select few invited to cover games? How many times will they be tested? What about the delivery drivers who bring essentials such as Gatorade and supplies to the stadium? Who is testing these guys and how are they being segregated from the public during the week?
How does this affect player contracts and bi-weekly paychecks? How are TV contracts affected? What about in-stadium advertising dollars and program advertisers? Weekly radio and TV coaches shows?
What about in-season trades? How will the waiver wire work? Will newly-claimed players be able to travel to their new club? Can they be seen by a physician first in order to clear their physical? How does this affect the medical care of players? What about players who are in rehab? Are those physical therapists part of this quarantine process? Pharmacy and medical supply deliveries? Who is testing those folks?
And what about the families of all of the above? Are they involved in this web or can their loved one expect to out of contact for 6-7 months?
Will there be a process to get test results back ultra-speedy? How will all of these people become an integral part of this seemingly endless “gotta be tested weekly” network?
If regulation is the key to Dr. Fauci’s proposal, there are an infinite number of unregulated cogs to his system. Let’s start with a new weekly injury report status: Quarantined
Would you attend an NFL game if a cure to COVID-19 was still not available?
This poll is closed
I am a true fan - this won’t stop me
I would not